Complex also cited two legal and sexual assault experts who explained that a lack of DNA evidence doesn’t necessarily mean what the public assumes it means.
“People expect DNA or scientific evidence in every case and the reality is it doesn’t exist in most cases,” Sangamon County Assistant State’s Attorney Sheryl Essenburg said in a report by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “It’s very much the exception.”a
Villanova University law professor Michelle Anderson echoed Essenburg’s argument: “That leap is a misunderstanding of what DNA can and can’t prove. DNA can prove sex occurred. DNA can’t prove that sex didn’t occur.”
The above info is part of an article from Root.com about Charlamagne the God. I found it very interesting given my own POV about DNA. We the people (pun intended) have come to rely so heavily on variables outside ourselves that we have developed unrealistic expectation of tools such as DNA and scientific evidence.
DNA has become one of the most groundbreaking additions to law enforcement investigations of any kind. DNA was first used in criminal investigations circa 1986. Since its introduction, almost 40 plus years ago, DNA evidence has solved thousands of cold cases. It’s provided an abundance of that so heavily sought after reasonable doubt (shout out to Jay-Z). It’s been the catalyst for freeing the innocent from jail. And, its contributed to placing the guilty and some innocent (see the previous statement) behind bars. Knowing all of this leaves me wondering…what would we do without it? Are we capable of maintaining an efficient judicial system (I am in no way insinuating that we currently have an efficient judicial system by any means…with or without DNA)? Is due process actually a process when—in certain scenarios, it must rely verdicts without the availability of DNA? Given the current use of DNA, do we rely on it too heavily? Is it misused in certain cases? Do we have an appropriate understanding of it and what it represents?
Needless to say, I have some strong questions about how DNA plays a part in our legal decision making process and our perceptions as society.
In essence, DNA is a revelation. It answers so many questions but more than anything, it answers the question of absence. DNA proves a specific presence and existence…but…that’s it.
DNA is more definitive than relying on hearsay and witness statements of I saw him/her there, I hear that so and so saw him leaving, coming, going, I can’t remember exactly, I forgot, Im not sure, yes! Definitely maybe.
If the serial number of your body’s chemical makeup was found at a scene—sans being placed there with intent to deceive (hey it happens!), it reveals at least one thing for sure…you were there! At some point, you were there long enough to expel a bodily fluid or some other piece of yourself. DNA is responsible for that knowledge by providing proof of your presence.
Proof of your presence…let that breathe a lil bit (Jay-Z chill, get out of my blogs man!). Let proof of presence waft into your brain like the very oxygen required to live.
Your DNA at best, depending on where it’s located, is proof of your presence….but is it proof of what you did while you were there? No, it is not.
This is where things get really, really, really muddy and we know the water is now muddy because DNA provided us with the light to see it. DNA said “you were there and we know it because DNA”. What DNA doesn’t say is “you were there and we know what you did while you were there”. Even in sexual assault cases, DNA doesn’t necessarily prove that a crime has been committed. Other facts are required in order to make the consideration of DNA effective and legitimate.
Porn has proven that one person’s DNA found on another person is not indicative of sexual assault. At best, it’s a sign that something or someone was shared and not necessarily by, with, or through, the same people. Therefore, the conclusiveness in which we currently use DNA, is a bit damning for us all.
Again, knowing that DNA has its limitations, are we acknowledging and respecting those limitations or have we decided that DNA is strong enough to stand alone in our struggle to balance the scales of justice?
In certain cases where a suspect’s DNA has been legitimately recovered, a consensus was formed, and that consensus was along the lines of, “this person is guilty because their DNA was recovered and if their DNA was recovered, they did it (1995 OJ Simpson Trial, DNA matched OJ’s genetic profile). *insert record scratch* OJ was found not guilty and the DNA recovered was not an exact and precise match to OJ. The DNA was found to be that of someone in OJ’s bloodline but not his own. Still, White America made no bones about the fact that OJ was guilty. How and why did they come to this conclusion while the DNA clearly was not his? OTHER FACTORS contributed to their decision—one being that he was a black man being accused of killing 2 white people but that’s another blog; the fact is the case involved several other pieces of evidence and material that leaned heavily towards OJ’s guilt but in the end, he was found not guilty.
Additionally, there have been well-documented cases that have ended without convictions simply due to the lack of DNA recovered even when evidence proves otherwise. The IRONY…(insert meme of little African-boy with a cynical facial expression)…you mean to tell me that I could be found at a location, blood on my hands, video of myself committing the crime, receiving mail at this location, confessing to the crime and still walk free? Yes little African-boy meme, you can.
You can because DNA or in this case, a lack thereof. We have come to rely so heavily on the presence of DNA to be a deciding factor that we ignore blatant and obvious indications.
Granted, the aforementioned list of obviousness is a facetious stretch, it’s realistic in our society. i.e. R Kelly. The absence of DNA wasn’t a factor in his 2008 child pornography case however it is relative to illustrate how oftentimes the mark is missed even when other elements provide the ability to get it right. This man had a video of himself committing illegal acts with an underage young woman, in a cabin that looks just like the owned, yet he found not guilty. Perhaps if some DNA was involved (Mr. Burns meme) Amazing people! Amazing.
Sidebar: Accusations involving R Kelly and sexual assault against women have continued. I wonder why?
The fact of the matter is thag DNA does not prove that a crime was committed nor does the lack of DNA prove that a crime was not committed.
In other words, the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.
DNA modifies our perceptions…as if we need more distractions. THINKING for ourselves is the new dirty work that no one wants to do. We the people have allowed DNA evidence to do our dirty work. We are veering further and further away from critical and independent thinking. We do this because we enjoy making everything less of a challenge, quick, competitive, and socially acceptable.
We the people as jurors rely heavily on DNA to make decisions for us. We sleep better at night knowing that we made the decision that we made if DNA is involved because no one will fault us for that. I relied on the DNA evidence. But where that DNA is not present…what do we do? How do we decide?
Recently Charlamagne the God made headlines for something other than his antics on the Breakfast Club. A young lady who claims she was raped by Charlamagne is attempting to reopen the case because according to her, the case was dismissed because she did not pursue charges and Charlamagne’s DNA was not found in her rape kit. The young lady claims that she was 14 at the time and was pressured by her mother—who thought she was protecting her daughter, to drop the case.
While Charlamagne’s DNA was not found in her rape kit, he hasn’t reassured the public that he is to be believed in having not harmed this young lady. By his own admission, he has had sex with women who were not “coherent”. His own wife has made statements to the effect that he raped her when they first started seeing each other. They have both since attempted to clean up those statements but the damage has already been done.
The lack of DNA evidence in the accuser’s rape kit does not mean that Charlemagne is innocent. And, the statements he’s made about himself and his wife are not helping the matter at all.
By depending on DNA, we the people fear that we will not make the best or correct decision while placing all or at least a majority of our chips on our very own ability to decipher facts and circumstances. No one wants that…(sigh)….
Don’t get me wrong. I can only imagine the anxiety that goes into process that jurors face when rendering a verdict. But this anxiety tells us that we know the importance of this process and therefore we should put more into than DNA, especially when we are making our opinions public.
I’m not advocating for the elimination of DNA evidence however I am asking that everyone do their part in not using it as an absolute. Let’s use DNA as one of the many considerations that we have to make strong decisions and not knee-jerk reactions to a person’s presence while weighing it against another person’s pain or suffering. Our perceptions are what we live by as a 6th sense (so to speak) but let’s not be led by them.